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Commentary: Looking ahead to the 2011 draft

BY SCOTT MILLER | APRIL 27, 2010 7:30 AM

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Six Hawkeyes were drafted by NFL teams this weekend, the largest number since 1976.

That’s a big deal — a program-changing deal. It has to be.

Only Florida (nine), Alabama (seven), Oklahoma (seven), and Southern California (seven) had more prospects nabbed this weekend. And Iowa tied with Texas, Tennessee, LSU, Penn State, and Utah with six players drafted.

Look at those names. They aren’t just schools; they’re football institutions.

Yes, this is a big deal, but what makes it a potentially program-changing deal lies ahead. The 2011 NFL draft is when Iowa can solidify itself as a pit stop on the way to the NFL. And that’s what sells on the recruiting trail — even more so than an Orange Bowl victory.

Don’t believe me?

Southern Cal, Florida, Texas, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, and Tennessee all have a top-10 recruiting class signed, according to Rivals.com. That’s right: Seven of Rivals’ top-10 classes had six or more players taken in the draft.

But these schools shuttle off a bevy of NFL-ready prospects every year. For Ferentz to fully capitalize on the 2010 draft, he needs to do the same. It starts with next year’s draft.

Below is a list of current Hawkeyes that could be drafted in 2011:

DE Adrian Clayborn: Kirk Ferentz said Clayborn would have been a first-round pick in this year’s draft, and it’s hard to argue with the head coach. Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan went 16th overall to the Titans, even though he disappeared in the Orange Bowl thanks to Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga and Kyle Calloway.

Clayborn shone all season, including the bowl game, in which he was named MVP. Ferentz said, “Assuming he keeps progressing and playing like he has, he’ll be one of the best in the country.”

Clayborn is top-10 caliber. It wouldn’t surprise me if he became the program’s first top-five selection since Robert Gallery in 2004.

QB Ricky Stanzi: We all know Iowa’s signal caller is a bit mistake-prone. His 15 interceptions last year were fifth-most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. His 56.3 completion percentage isn’t going to impress many scouts, either.

But by the end of next year, Stanzi will have started nearly three full seasons in a pro-style offense. With the infusion of the spread offense in college football, pro-style quarterbacks are highly valued.
Stanzi’s leadership qualities alone should be enough to make him a late-round pick and a serviceable NFL backup.

WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos: The affable wide receiver sits just 401 yards away from breaking Tim Dwight’s all-time Iowa receiving record. Johnson-Koulianos’ consistency has been something to marvel at the past three years. He has never dipped below 480 yards or 12.5 yards per catch average in a season.

S Brett Greenwood: Very quietly, Greenwood has been one of Iowa’s most productive defensive players. He’s not flashy like his safety counterpart, Tyler Sash, but he rarely makes a costly misstep. Greenwood has always reminded me of Matt Bowen, the former Hawkeye safety who went on to have a seven-year NFL career. Bowen was a sixth-round pick in 1999. Greenwood could go higher with a good 2010 season.

P Ryan Donahue: Yes, punters get drafted, too. Last year, Donahue developed a knack for pining opponents inside their own 20. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. rated Donahue as the best senior kicker going into the 2010 season.

TE Allen Reisner: In Kirk Ferentz’s 11 years on campus, four tight ends have been selected in the draft — Dallas Clark, Scott Chandler, Brandon Myers, and Tony Moeaki. Reisner should make it five if he continues to produce.

That’s six potential NFL prospects. And I didn’t even include honorable mentions Jeremiha Hunter, Christian Ballard, Karl Klug, Julian Vandervelde, and junior wideout Marvin McNutt.


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